It’s well known that UW-Madison salaries are notably lower than those at peer institutions, at every level of seniority. But wait, says Chris Rickert in the Wisconsin State Journal, that doesn’t necessarily mean our faculty is underpaid!
At UW-Madison, assistants are paid, on average, about $82,000 a year, associates about $93,000 and full professors about $123,000 — ranking them 10th, seventh and 12th, respectively, in salary compared to 11 other state-identified peer institutions, according to data from the university’s Academic Planning and Institutional Research office.
Obviously, more full professors means more people in line for full-professor salaries and greater pressure on the budget for professorial salaries overall. At UW-Madison, that’s no small detail, as about 59 percent of UW-Madison professors have attained full status, according to the university’s Data Digest.
By contrast, figures from the American Association of University Professors show that, on average, only about 31.5 percent profs at all universities and about 30.8 percent at public universities are full professors.
This is a really good point! You could imagine that maybe our pay isn’t underscale at all — maybe we just promote people faster, so that our full professors are less senior and thus make less. That’s Rickert’s take:
I’m left to wonder whether the university has adopted that old human resources trick of placating employees by inflating their titles more than their pay.
In an era of declining state support, this would help keep a lid on the cost of higher education while simultaneously allowing university officials to complain about how poorly paid are its best and brightest.
But this can actually be checked! You can use the Chronicle of Higher Education Faculty Salary Survey to get the mean salary for any university at any seniority level, and the number of faculty members at each seniority level, and compute the overall faculty mean that way. I did this for a few of our peer institutions and got:
So the mean UW tenure-track gets paid slightly more than people at Iowa, but notably less than counterparts at Ohio State and Illinois.